It has been almost 12 years since the re-release of the first Ace Attorney trilogy. Man, aren’t we already feeling old? It has also been 23 years since the original debut of Phoenix Wright in all of its finger pointing glory. Since then, the series grew from three games to almost ten, gathering fans all over the world with decades of titles on many platforms. So, today it is finally time to go back to the first game after the conclusion of the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, Apollo Justice. Should we take this new plunge into nostalgic games? Let’s have a look and see if there’s anything we can yell out OBJECTION to.
The trilogy contains three visual novel games released for Nintendo DS and 3DS between 2007 and 2016, so spanning almost a decade, as opposed to the few years of the original. Each game is made up of several episodes, where - as a defense lawyer - we’ll have to get our defendant acquitted of murder charges. This is done by examining the murder scene, interrogating suspects and - of course - bringing everything we've gathered to the courtroom, where we’ll object and yell “take that” as appropriate.
In this new trilogy, we go from the classic 2D art of Apollo Justice to the 3D characters of Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice. So, in some way the latter titles definitely benefit way more of this remaster as opposed to the original 2D art, which is redrawn and cleaned up perhaps way too much.
With new remastered soundtrack and sound effects, plus the necessary resolution update to modern standards, this trilogy also includes all the DLCs that, today, are basically impossible to obtain through legal means. If you’re a fan of the series, there is really not much more to say. You have been waiting for this, and it is exactly what you want. Go pick it up now and stop reading. Really, stop reading. For all the others… HOLD IT!
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. This second trilogy, along with not being really about Apollo Justice, is definitely not as classic as the original. That’s not even a hot take, these games saw little (or no) involvement from Takumi, as the ball was passed to another designer as he was busy with Ghost Trick. Probably, the most controversial to this day is the original Apollo Justice and its overall rewriting of Phoenix Wright.
Our beloved little clumsy lawyer gets disbarred and ends up as a near-hobo, a pianist in a bar that just loves playing poker. We also discover that he has a daughter. The final case even introduces a weird new justice system, going for a strange and out of place conclusion which - even today - leaves me dubious. It also introduces many character details for both Apollo and Trucy, which - unless I’m remembering wrong - don’t really come back in the other games in a noticeable way.
While Apollo Justice tried to shift the focus on a new character (that’s also what Takumi wanted), that did not really work out. Later titles brought back Phoenix Wright in full force, while putting both Apollo and Trucy - for the most part - on the backseat. Dual Destinies also introduces a new lawyer, Athena Cykes, which we’ll play as, along with a pretty forgettable new prosecutor, Simon Blackquill. Spirit of Justice, meanwhile, takes the action to Khura’in, bringing back Maya Fey and seances becoming an integral part of the trials.
Dual Destinies is fine at best, probably the one Ace Attorney game which I have to remember that I did play because it disappeared from my mind very fast. Spirit of Justice, on the other hand, is a little bit underappreciated, so it might be a great time to go back and rediscover it, if you haven’t done so in a while.
Capcom definitely did a good job with the release, and the trilogy comes with a fair share of extras like character artwork, modern orchestra themes, plus the classic gallery of videos from all the games. It would have been interesting to also feature interviews with the developers or perhaps some “making of” videos, but what’s there will probably satisfy most fans.
Overall, while the Apollo Justice trilogy is definitely an obvious recommendation for all Ace Attorney fans, it might come with a few caveats for the more casual visual novel fans. If you’re unsure, I would recommend to first try out the original trilogy and then, if you’re still hungry, definitely come back for more. It is time to say that this remaster does the original games... justice?
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